Pentagon bans even more sites for being “gay”; anti-gay “hate group” okay

LGBT bad, Anti-LGBT good

We wrote yesterday about the discovery that parts of the Defense Department ban access, from military computers, to a class of Web sites it labels “LGBT,” an abbreviation for gay and trans, while not banning a number of top anti-LGBT sites.

Today we discover even more “LGBT” sites that the Pentagon bans – Good as You, and Bilerico – while it apparently has no problem with the Web site of one of the most virulently anti-gay hate groups, the American Family Association, which is easily accessible from a military computer.

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gay

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In addition, while the Pentagon bans Pam’s House Blend and AMERICAblog for being “political” and “activist,” it does not ban other political activist sites such as NOM, Red State, Breitbart, Glenn Beck, and the aforementioned American Family Association, which is so political and activist that it has been designated an official “hate group.”

UPDATE: HRC’s blog is blocked by the Pentagon as well.

It’s worth noting that the Pentagon apparently bans pro-LGBT sites, but anti-LGBT sites are permittecd.  And while some have argued “oh, it must be a more general porn filter you got caught in,” then why didn’t NOM and AFA get caught in the same filter?  Lord knows the religious right has some of the smuttiest gay content around.

And finally, others argued “oh, the Pentagon must ban ‘blogs’ generically.” Putting aside for a moment why the US government has an official policy that “blogs,” across the board, are somehow worthy of government censorship, why is lead conservative blog Red State not blocked while lead progressive blog DailyKos is?

Yesterday, we noted that the Air Force bans access to this site, AMERICAblog, claiming we are “political” and an “activist group,” and bans popular gay news blog Towleroad for being “LGBT.”  Here’s are the results you get when trying to pull up those two sites on an Air Force computer:

americablog-snippet

towleroad-snipet

Note the results specifically give the reason for the ban: “political/activist groups;blogs” and “LGBT.”

The Air Force also bans the Web site of Josh Seefried, one of the cofounders of OutServe, a lead “gays in the military” organization that was heavily involved in getting “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” repealed.  Seefried is also guilty of committing the sin of being “LGBT.”

joshseefried-snippet

At the same time, the Air Force does not ban Rush Limbaugh’s Web site, nor Ann Coulter’s, both of which are clearly “political,” arguably “activist,” and certainly anti-LGBT.  (The DOD bans appears localized, and varies by service and geographic region of the country, suggesting local control over the banning software.)

The Ban Plays On

Today, things got decidedly worse.

First, we discovered more gay news sites that are banned by the Pentagon for the crime of being “LGBT.”  They include popular sites “Good as You” and Bilerico.

Good as You – banned for being “LGBT” (and a “blog”)

goodasyou

Gay news and commentary site “Good as You,” banned by DOD for being “LGBT.”

 

Bilerico – banned for being “LGBT” (and a “blog”)bilerico

Pam’s House Blend – gay news site banned for being a “political” “activist” “blog”

pamAmerican Family Association – anti-LGBT political activist, officially-designated hate group, is not banned 

AFA

 

NOM – anti-LGBT political activists not banned (note that NOM’s home page says it has a “blog”)

NOM

 

Red State – Republican political activist blog, not banned (while AMERICAblog, Pam’s House Blend and other progressive sites are banned for being a “blog,” among other reasons)redstate

Glenn Beck – Republican political activist, not banned (note that Beck too has a blog)

beck

Breitbart – Republican political activist blog, not banned

breit

It’s hard to know if the sleight is arbitrary and capricious, or simply someone at the Pentagon being terribly bad at their job, but the fact remains that the “LGBT” Internet ban has existed since the days of “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell,” and the Pentagon was informed of this problem this past summer and has chosen to do nothing about it.

And while one could possible forgive the Pentagon for not realizing that their computers practice potentially unconstitutional, and certainly bigoted, censorship, it’s an entirely different story once the Pentagon has been informed that it is discriminating against its gay and lesbian service members and is refusing to do anything to correct the situation.

As a friend pointed out to me yesterday, suddenly that whole Hagel nomination controversy – where there were concerns about former Republican Senator Chuck Hagel’s name being floated as President Obama’s possible next Secretary of Defense, as he has a serious anti-gay record – becomes a lot more relevant.  The days of anti-gay bigotry and indifference at the Pentagon are, sadly, not over.

Of course, the final irony is that many at the Pentagon won’t even be able to read this site in order to find out what the problem is, and fix it.


Follow me on Twitter: @aravosis | @americablog | @americabloggay | Facebook | Google+ | LinkedIn. John Aravosis is the editor of AMERICAblog, which he founded in 2004. He has a joint law degree (JD) and masters in Foreign Service from Georgetown (1989); and worked in the US Senate, World Bank, Children's Defense Fund, and as a stringer for the Economist. Frequent TV pundit: O'Reilly Factor, Hardball, World News Tonight, Nightline & Reliable Sources. Bio, .

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  • Ris

    there’s a typo here: It’s worth noting that the Pentagon apparently bans pro-LGBT sites, but anti-LGBT sites are permittecd.

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Donald-Davidson/692300302 Donald Davidson

    Maybe we should forward this article to some of gay/lesbian/bi members of congress and ask the to address it? Maybe we would get news to Obama in some way? Or the ACLU? Mikey Weinstein?

  • http://www.rebeccamorn.com/mind BeccaM

    So far not seeing them. I’m wondering if our hardworking Mods blocked the more egregiously bigoted commenters’ IPs after yesterday’s spew.

  • dcinsider

    I understand many IT folks are hesitant to call this a deliberate act of discrimination, but John’s point is that they knew about this 18 months ago, and still have done nothing to correct it. That delay IS a deliberate act of discrimination.

  • RickR76

    There’s an easy way to test whether the LGBT category is being blocked. See if one of your contacts can go to advocate.com. They’re classified as “News/Media” and “LGBT” so if that site gets through then I’m confident in saying that the IT Admins have a blanket block on “Blogs/Personal Pages” setup.
    They could alter the rule to block anything categorized as “Blogs/Personal Pages” through ONLY if it is not also categorized as “Political/Activist Groups” or “LGBT” or whatever; but I’m guessing this wasn’t done because, as a general statement, IT Admins are overworked and can’t be bothered to make such distinctions on their own – it means more work.

  • ckg1

    Sic Anonymous on these guys.

  • BemInBoston

    Have you reached out to the Pentagon for comment? Any response?

  • RickR76

    These are Blue Coat web filtering results, as clearly shown in the screen captures. I agree with Stev84, this is probably just some IT issue. I’m familiar with this particular technology. It filters based on categories – but if you look at all the blocked results, the one thing they all have in common is they’re categorized as Blogs/Personal Pages. From what I can tell this is the trigger.

    How can I tell that, besides the fact that it’s the only category that’s in common on all the blocked results? Well, it’s also the only one NOT in common with the sites you referenced that aren’t blocked.

    For example, americablog.com is classified as “Blogs/Personal Pages” and “Political/Activist Groups.”

    Rush Limbaugh, Ann Coulter, American Family Association, – both sites are classified as “Political/Activist Groups” only. So we can safely deduce that it’s unlikely that “Political/Activist Groups” is triggering a block.

    You can block or allow specific sites with Blue Coat, but you cannot change their categories, only Blue Coat can do that. The overwhelming majority of IT administrators don’t want to be bothered with tracking individual sites, it’s why they pay Blue Coat a ton of money to do it for them and send them updated lists automatically.

    I’m oversimplifying of course, but the point being is that this is probably not gay-related, the filter just responds with a list of ALL categories the blocked site is categorized in, not just the categories that caused the block.

    I do a lot of work with K-12 schools, and this drives me crazy – they habitually block Blogs/Personal Pages on their Blue Coats. So I get hit with this when I try to pull up someone’s technical blog to research a technology issue that the school itself is having. I kindly point out the stupidity of blocking anything that’s a “Blog.”

    There’s a strong argument to be made that categorizing a site as a blog is just silly nonsense anymore, and that is I think exactly the case here. I’m keen to spot LGBT bias when I see it, but understanding how this technology works leads me to believe this is not what’s happening here.

  • http://www.meetmarcadams.com MarcAdams

    This is how it is set up. Looks like the standard fare. Looks like blocking would be up to the IT admin of the company using their service.

    For ProxySG (or other business users):

    This policy management falls under the purview of whatever individual or group created/governs your Internet access policy.

    The Blue Coat WebFilter team simply maps Web content to the appropriate WebFilter categories and leaves it to our customers to construct an Internet access policy which governs where their end users can or cannot go on the Internet.

    If you feel that a certain category should be either blocked or allowed or an exception made in the case of a specific URL, you are best served by contacting your IT/Help Desk staff for further assistance.

  • Naja pallida

    All it takes is one line in a firewall rule-set to block a site, or even a whole range of sites. It could be done by any IT administrator with access to the Pentagon computers without anyone even knowing until they tried to go to a blocked site.

  • http://www.meetmarcadams.com MarcAdams

    thanks. so this means our sites are also blocked

  • Stev84

    This maybe just an overzealous IT administrator rather than some explicit policy from higher up. There have been quite a few cases like this in schools for example. They often just install the filter software and use the default settings.

  • http://AMERICAblog.com/ John Aravosis

    Great find, but we need to know whether DOD can tailor the filter to its own tastes – if so, these results aren’t 100% certain.

  • Skeptical Cicada

    My goodness. Where are all the supposed DoD employees and supposed die-hard gay-rights supporters from yesterday, the ones who were desperately and smugly denying the Pentagon’s rabid anti-gay censorship? Good work, John!

  • AC
  • scottrose

    Keep on this case, John!

  • http://www.meetmarcadams.com MarcAdams

    so how do we find out if a website is banned at the pentagon?

  • nicho

    And the Dittoheads will be by to spew their nonsense in 5…4…3…

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